Hyundai A-League talking points: round 19

The Mariners’ win at Spotless was the big talking point over the five-day round. And it wasn’t just their on-field display that had fans abuzz.

Young talent time

There was a piece of history in Melbourne on Saturday night as City defender Dylan Pierias became the first Millennial (person born in the 2000s) to play in the Hyundai A-League. And the 16-year-old was excellent on debut, alongside another City teenager in Denis Genreau. The pair weren’t the only youngsters to impress in Round 19 with the form of Adelaide’s Riley McGree and Jordan O’Doherty a bright spot on a bleak Friday night at Coopers Stadium. Throw in Roar’s Dane Ingham, the Mariners’ Liam Rose and Wanderers centre-back Jonathan Aspropotamitis among others and it’s clear to see the young talent coming through in the Hyundai A-League is as strong as ever.

The Okon revolution 

The Mariners have endured some lean times over the last couple of seasons in the Hyundai A-League. Former Socceroo Paul Okon was brought in just before the 2016/17 Season to try and turn things around and on the evidence of the last few weeks, he’s doing just that. 

Roy O'Donovan celebrates opening the scoring against the Wanderers from the penalty spot.

The structure is better, the football is good to watch and – most importantly – the results are starting to materialise. Sunday’s 2-0 win was their third on the trot and they are now right in the mix to play finals football, nipping at the heels of the Jets in sixth spot (and what an F3 Derby we have coming up in Round 21). And with Okon’s influence and confidence now flowing right through his young squad, you’d be foolish to rule them out.

Is Paolo the new Kenny?

Still on the Mariners boss and how good was it to see him run down the sideline before a stacks on with his players as they celebrated O’Donovan’s second goal against the Wanderers. You got to love his passion. Perth Glory boss Kenny Lowe is in a league of his own with his touchline antics and witty one-liners but Okon is fast becoming a must-watch coach on the sidelines. Great stuff Paolo!

Adelaide kids blossom as Reds wilt

There hasn’t been much to get excited about in the City of Churches this season as United’s title defence has failed to get going. Gui Amor’s side hit a new low on Friday night as they slumped to a 5-0 drubbing at home to the Glory. But amid all the doom and gloom there is something to get excited about, and that’s the form of some of their youngsters.

Ben Garuccio has been one of Adelaide United's shining lights this season.

The likes of Ben Garuccio (21), Riley McGree (18), Jordan O’Doherty (19), Nikola Mileusnic (23) and Mark Ochieng (20) all played against Glory and have done exceptionally well when called upon this season. While the 2016/17 Season might be gone for the Reds, the future does look good.